Wicked Tuna, Serendipity and Zemblanity: The Zen of The Universe and The Power of Authentic Belief

I hate to post something on the heels of my previous post, which meant a lot to me – but this has to be written.

Tonight I was talking to my dad and he was tell me about watching the show Wicked Tuna, which chronicles the stories of competing Bluefin tuna fisherman in Gloucester Mass.

What was interesting was my Dad’s observation about how the show really illustrated the concept of The Secret, but in a much more palpable and nuanced way due to the non-fiction nature of the show. What my dad observed specifically was the difference in the attitudes and beliefs of the crews on the most successful boats. He saw a clear distinction between the authentically rooted beliefs of the successful crews, versus the wishful or hopeful, or merely optimistic attitudes of the crews on the less successful boats.

Now, this is interesting. We’re talking about fishing. Clearly, there are a lot of factors that play into the crew’s fortune during the fishing season; from the Captain’s experience and the crew’s knowledge, to the fishing grounds, to the exact rig the fisherman are using to catch the Bluefin tuna – there are a lot of tangible, influencing factors beyond mere luck.

Now, I understand I may not be able to convince you that there is any correlation between authentic beliefs and success – but as I settle into my 29th year, I’m learning to trust in the serendipity of the universe more, versus attempting to understand everything in concrete terms; however, that being said, it’s not hard to imagine how authentically believing in your success aligns your actions more congruently with what’s required to achieve an expected outcome versus had you deep down expected to fail or simply didn’t authentically believe in your success . But we’re talking about fishing here, not selling insurance policies. So what gives?

Part of the open-minded fluidity of my own beliefs is understanding that there is tangible value in faith. And I’m not talking about faith as a noun, but faith as a verb. If you believe in something authentically you not only act accordingly in your actions and decide accordingly in your decisions, but you also think differently – you see the right signs, messages, and lessons – suddenly you start meeting the right people. And what this ends up looking like is that our beliefs actually shape the universe. Things have a way of falling into play that support our beliefs. And it doesn’t matter if our beliefs are positive or negative. Let me ask you, if there are two people and one believes that people are inherently selfish and mean, and the other believes that people are inherently generous and kind, what do you think is going to happen to each? Each is going to have experiences that support their respective beliefs. Beliefs are inherently self-strengthening because our subjective experiences and both our conscious and subconscious thoughts and actions are rooted in our beliefs. In this way beliefs can be thought of as foundational to human experience.

We experience life as we believe it to be. And to anyone who tries to use extreme adversity as a counter argument to this, I implore you to read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, which recounts his experiences in four different Nazi death camps, including Auschwitz, from 1942 to 1945, and the importance of finding meaning as a necessity for survival.

I’m both incredibly humbled and deeply uncomfortable using Viktor Frankl’s story as an anecdote for a blog post on belief as a means to success, but I suggest every adult read this book. It’s a treasure and will undoubtedly benefit you, the reader for having read it. One of the lessons I took away from Viktor Frankl’s writings is that when we give up hope, we have already lost.

So, how does belief affect the success of a fishing crew?

I think there is something beautiful in this question. I also think that we shouldn’t try to answer it, but rather use it as supporting evidence for the basis of our own empowering beliefs. It may be, as I explained above in this post, that we merely act in a way that influences the probability of a given outcome, but what I find so alluring and ethereal about this example [the success of a fishing boat] is that it seems to point to more than that.

For whatever reason, almost every time I have failed to succeed at something in life the underlying current has been that I didn’t truly believe in the desired outcome. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I wanted to see myself succeed – whenever I didn’t really and truly believe with the fiber of my soul that I was going to succeed, it just didn’t happen. However, on the flip-side, whenever I knew in my bones that I would succeed, I practically willed things into existence. Success, love – even happiness.

As this scene from The Tao of Steve shows, it’s all connected – and we can’t pretend – it has to be authentic.

And if you were to ask me about my spirituality today I would tell you that I believe in serendipity.

Serendipity is defined as the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

But I think it’s more than chance. I think we can create serendipity in every area of our life when we believe in it with our entire being.

I also think we create zemblanity through our beliefs. Zemblanity is the opposite of serendipity:

So what is the opposite of Serendip, a southern land of spice and warmth, lush greenery and hummingbirds, seawashed, sunbasted? Think of another world in the far north, barren, icebound, cold, a world of flint and stone. Call it Zembla. Ergo: zemblanity, the opposite of serendipity, the faculty of making unhappy, unlucky and expected discoveries by design. Serendipity and zemblanity: the twin poles of the axis around which we revolve. – Armadillo, by William Boyd, 1998.

That’s kind of my spiritual belief system. It’s a paradigm for creating heaven and hell in the different areas of our life. We are constantly creating either serendipity or zemblanity in our lives based entirely on our beliefs.

Negative beliefs create zemblanity, and positive beliefs create serendipity. This is the yin and yang zen of the universe [for me]. And trust me, the universe has an impeccable bullshit detector. It knows what you are attuned to, whether that’s scarcity or abundance. The universe can responds only to authenticity, whether positive or negative. So it’s equally important to know that false beliefs and weak beliefs also create zemblanity.

So my advice for creating what you want in life is to work on aligning your authentic self to it. I wrote about this back in my Real Life Limitless series, describing what I called omnipotent beliefs.

Unfortunately I turned my back on my belief system because I was satisfied and I was lost in thought and unsure of my identity (Falling in love and going through a quarter life crisis will do that to you). But what this amounted to was that I was not authentic in myself and I was unsure of what I wanted. But today, I have returned to the pole of serendipity in a major way. And it’s unreal. The universe and I are on good terms again. I didn’t see it coming, but it’s been a long time in the making.

I just wrote the title for this post (I come up with title after I write everything) and I’ll be DAMNED if that doesn’t sound like an awesome book title: Wicked Tuna, Serendipity and Zemblanity: The Zen of The Universe and The Power of Authentic Belief

You heard it here first folks.

P.S. If you’re interested in reading more about how you can create authentic belief in your life, I suggest you check out this series from ordained Taoist David James Lee, The Law of Attraction or ‘The Secret’ a Taoist Perspective.

P.P.S. Albert Einstein said: “There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.” In this same fashion, I believe that you can live as if everything is effected by your beliefs or as if nothing is effected by your beliefs. But please take my word for it when I tell you that the latter might rob you of all the miracles entirely.

3 thoughts on “Wicked Tuna, Serendipity and Zemblanity: The Zen of The Universe and The Power of Authentic Belief

  1. […] And what’s really shown me this is the fact that I went through a kind of dark night of the soul over the past couple years, where these things simply did not happen – because I didn’t believe in anything except science; however, once the spiritual poles in my life reversed from zemblanity to serendipity – voila’ – the magic came back. […]


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